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Unit information: Research Project in 2020/21

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Unit name Research Project
Unit code LAWDM0106
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Phillipson
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

LAWDM0061, Law of Contract

Co-requisites

None

School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

The aim of the research project is for students to demonstrate that they can carry out independent legal or socio-legal research, critically engage with a topic area, and construct and sustain a coherent argument through an extended essay.

Students who elect to write a research project are required to either choose a topic for their research project from a list made available in June before they commence their second year of study. In the alternative, a student may select their own topic and consult with a member of academic staff who is available to supervise them. The Programme Director will approve research project titles and supervisors in July. Students will meet with their supervisor twice in the autumn term and then submit a summary of their research project (of not more than 500 words) and an extract from their research project (of not more than 1,000 words) for feedback and comment in January. They will receive the feedback by the end of January and are required to submit their research project of 6,000 words in April.

For this project it is expected that the primary sources will be texts: books, journals, newspapers and other research papers, generally accessible through the University's libraries, and the libraries of other academic institutions. For some topics it may be relevant to carry out archive research. It is not intended that students use empirical research methods such as interviewing or other methods that involve live human subjects.

Intended learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are intended to be as follows: Well-defined research question The student must construct a coherent research question that takes account of the chosen research topic but is sufficiently defined to be answered within a 6,000 word essay. The essay must address the research question. Well-structured The writer must explain what s/he is arguing in the essay, and demonstrate a coherent argument throughout in such a way that the reader can follow the argument at all times. Accuracy of knowledge The material used must be accurate and appropriate. The essay should demonstrate awareness and understanding of relevant contextual material, for example, historical perspectives, policy development and relevance, current academic discussion and disputes, law reform proposals. Relevant use of material The student must have found a range of material relevant to the topic. The selection of material should reflect the range of views/opinions about the research topic, engage with recent developments (if appropriate) and reflect issues of controversy. There must be evidence of an ability to evaluate the relative significance of these materials, and an awareness of trends or movements within the particular topic area. Analytical skills The essay must be more than a description of the topic area. The student must demonstrate an ability to analyse the material and construct their own argument, appropriately referencing the ideas and work of others. Good use of English The use of grammar must be correct. Students must also use punctuation correctly. Sentences should be logically constructed and easy to follow. There should not be too many long sentences with sub-phrases and sub-sub-phrases. Use of jargon and acronyms should be kept to a minimum, and should be explained in the text or footnotes. The essay should be proof-read to minimise spelling mistakes and typographical errors. Appropriate use of referencing and authority The essay must use a form of referencing consistently. All quotes must be referenced, and the student must adequately acknowledge where s/he has used source material through appropriate references. Abstract, bibliography, table of cases An abstract is compulsory but together with bibliography and table of cases etc add to the completeness of the essay and are proof of good scholarship.

Teaching details

Five introductory lectures and structured contact with Project Adviser.

Assessment Details

One 6,000 word project (100%), meeting the Intended Learning Outcomes.

Reading and References

A research project unit guide will be supplied to all students, of approximately 20 pages in length. Students who select a research project topic from a list will also be supplied with four further references to assist them in commencing their research. Those students who choose their own research project will have to gain approval from a supervisor and the Programme Director, which will entail having identified at least four appropriate initial references. References appropriate to students who are engaged in legal research include the following: Levin P. (2004) Write Great Essays! Reading and Essay Writing for Undergraduates and Taught Postgraduates, Open University Press. Coyle, M. & Peck J. (2005) Write It Right: A Handbook for Students, Palgrave Macmillan. Cottrell S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument, Palgrave Macmillan. Salter, A. & Mason, J. (2007) Writing Law Dissertations: An Introduction and Guide to the Conduct of Legal Research, Longman. Davies, W.M. (2008) Study Skills for International Postgraduates, Palgrave Macmillan.

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